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The Week in Women's Football: Season reviews from Portugal, Spain, Belgium & Greece

We look at a number of leagues around Europe as the 2017-18 seasons come to a close in Portugal, Belgium, Spain and Greece.



Sporting CP wins Liga Futebol Feminino Allianz Title in Portugal

Sporting CP repeated as champs in Portuguese Women's top league—the Liga Futebol Feminino Allianz—after pipping Sporting Braga by three points (62 to 59, though Braga had a much better goal difference (+119 to +87 for Sporting CP). The fact that the two top sides averaged 4.18 (Sporting CP) and 5.72 goals per game (Braga) speaks to the dominance of these two clubs and the gulf in the league with the other 10 teams. Estoril Praia finished third with 47 points. Boavista, which has 11 league titles and was only one crown behind 1 Dezembro with 12 wins, has no titles since 1997 and finished in 9th with 23 points. Quintajense (5 points with only 7 goals for and 94 goals surrendered for -87 goal difference) was relegated along with Cadima, who were in a battle to survive with A-dos-Francos—both sides finished on 15 points, but Cadima lost on head-to-head goals aggregate (5-3); they scored 3 fewer goals than did A-dox-Francos (25 to 28) overall in the league, and will play next season in the second division.



Anderlecht are Crowned Champions in Belgium and then promptly fold

Anderlecht won the women's Super League title in Belgium for the first time in 20 years but won't be able to participate in the 2018-19 UEFA Women's Champions League as the giant men's organization has ended the funding for the women's side. This is such a set-back for the game in Belgium and we will probably see their women's game fall further behind neighbors Netherlands, who not only won the UEFA Championship last summer among national teams but has seen continued growth at their league level, with more top imports from America and Europe coming on-board, while Belgium's league continues to focus on domestic talent; as a result these leagues (including many nations in Eastern Europe) typically become exporters of top talent to other European nations, rather than attracting top quality imports to drive improvement in the overall standard of the league. It again speaks to the dangers of women's top league clubs being dependent on men's organizations for funding. That is certainly the growing trend in Europe and America now (Manchester United adding a Division 2 team next year, Utah Royals with Major League Soccer's Real Salt Lake in America replacing FC Kansas City this year, Ajax in the Netherlands, Sporting Lisbon in Portugal and Juventus in Italy to name a few), but the Anderlecht situation shows the downside of this strategy. We certainly are not at a point where a club would shut down a men's side—even at an age group level—to save the women's club, so then why is the inverse such a common occurrence and accepted almost as normal? Independent women's clubs (Canberra United in Australia and Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL are two examples) struggle for funding but are more in control of their own fate and we may see a swing back to this model or a different one completely developed in the years ahead.

Looking at the clubs in the final four championship playoff for the title, Anderlecht had some key imports this season including goalkeeper Doris Bacic (23), who has played in Croatia with Osijek and Bosnia and Herzegovina with SFK 2000, and Russian defender Yekaterina Gokham (28), who has played in Cyprus, Iceland and Serbia. Midfielder Rachel Cuschieri of Malta has also spent time playing in Cyprus. Second place Gent used all locals except for 22-year-old Sylvana Tieleman of the Netherlands. Fourth place finishers Standard Leige had two Dutch imports: 17-year-old forward Lisa Verhoeven and 21-year-old forward Caroliena Wolters, with a French coach Hamide Ait-Ahmed Lamara (43) in charge. Third place Genk used an entirely home-based roster.

Heist was relegated after losing in the relegation playoff round by 0-11 and 0-10 margins to OH Leuven, who stayed up. Heist will be replaced for the 2018-19 season by Koninklijke Kontich FC, who won the First Division by 4 points over White Star Woulwe.



Atletico Madrid repeats title in Spain

Atletico Madrid won the Spanish Liga Femenina for the second year running. They pipped 2017-18 UEFA Women's Champions League quarterfinalists Barcelona (who lost 2-1 to eventual champion Olympic Lyon) by a single point (77 to 76). Both games between the clubs ended in 1-1 ties. Barcelona fell to fourth place Granadilla Tenerife (1-0) away and to 8th place Levante 2-1, again on the road. Atletico Madrid's only loss was at home to 11th place finishers Rayo Vallecano 1-0 last December.

Mexico's Charlyn Corral of Levante led the league in scoring with 25 goals, with Spanish international and ex-Western New York Flash forward ( NWSL) Sonia Bermudez of Atletico Madrid second on 20 and Valencia's Maria Paz, who has played internationally for Spain and Galacia (Northwestern Spain's semi-autonomous region which is non-aligned with FIFA) third on 19. Key imports in the Spanish league, which is quickly becoming a destination league for players throughout the world—much as France, America, Sweden, England and Australia have become—included Andressa Alves of Brazil of Barcelona with 12 goals (tied for ninth), Ludmila of Brazil and Atletico Madrid with 11 goals (tied for 12th). Toni Duggan of England and Lieke Martens of the Netherlands—both with Barcelona—also had 11 goals and Jade Boho of Equatorial Guinea, who played at Reading and Bristol City in 2016 and 2015, finished with 10 for Madrid.

Among other notable scorers was former Arsenal striker Natalia Pablos of Spain, who scored 15 goals for Rayo Vallecano (sixth place). Thirty-five-year old midfielder Laura Del Rio, who played at Bristol City for three seasons as well with the Washington Spirit in the NWSL, in the WPS and with FC Indiana in the W-League as well as in Frankfurt, had three goals in 26 appearances.

Atletico Madrid

MP

30

W

24

D

5

L

1

GF

74

GA

21

DIF

+53

PTS

77

Barcelona

30

24

4

2

98

12

+86

76

Athletic Club

30

18

2

10

51

41

+10

56

Granadilla Ten…

30

16

6

8

48

33

+15

54

Valencia

30

14

8

8

49

32

+17

50

Real Betis

30

14

4

12

40

37

+3

46

Real Sociedad

30

10

8

12

42

37

+5

38

Levante

30

11

5

14

49

50

-1

38

Sporting de Huelva

30

11

5

14

35

42

-7

38

Madrid

30

10

6

14

34

56

-22

36

Rayo Vallecano

30

9

6

15

39

63

-24

33

Sevilla

30

8

7

15

35

50

-15

31

Albacete

30

8

6

16

42

58

-16

30

Espanyol

30

7

8

15

22

42

-20

29

Zaragoza

30

6

5

19

31

67

-36

23

Santa Teresa

30

4

7

19

20

68

-48

19



PAOK wins title in Greece

PAOK finished one point ahead of Elpides Karaditsas and Aris in Greece in an exciting championship race which came down to the final weekend. PAOK won its fourth title in a row and 12th in their last 13 years, but this season they were hard pressed by the other two contenders. PAOK destroyed second-bottom side Volos 2004 12-0 at home on May 20 while, the previous day, Aris defeated Larissa 2-1 at home and Elpides Karditsas, also at home, defeated fifth place Trikala 2011 by a 3-1 margin.

PAOK's imports were:

Midfielder Eleni Giannou (24) of Cyprus, who won the title last season with PAOK as well and two titles at home.

Defender Elena Dimitrijevic (31) of Serbia now has won 7 titles with PAOK.

Fourth placed Amazones Dramas had international forward Georgiana Birtoiu (28) of Romania, once played in Russia with Rossiyanka, as well as in Cyprus and at home.

MP W DL GF GADIF PTS

1

PAOK

22

18

2

2

90

10

+80

56

2

Elpides Karditsas

22

18

1

3

53

16

+37

55

3

Aris

22

17

4

1

61

8

+53

55

4

Amazones Dramas

22

11

6

5

45

16

+29

39

5

Larissa

22

10

5

7

40

29

+11

35

6

Trikala 2011

22

8

7

7

26

30

-4

31

7

Atromitos

22

7

7

8

24

24

+0

28

8

Odysseas Glyfadas

22

7

7

8

22

20

+2

28

9

Missolonghi 2008

22

4

5

13

14

42

-28

17

10

OFI

22

3

4

15

10

48

-38

13

11

Volos 2004

22

3

1

18

12

79

-67

10

12

Pheidon Argos

22

1

1

20

8

83

-75

4

The leading scores in the league were:

Eleni Markou—P.A.O.K Ladies F.C.—27 goals—Greek international forward

Anastasia Spiridonidou—Aris Ladies F.C.— 25 goals—Greek international

Gisela Arrieta Betancourt—Elpides Karditsas A.C.—23 goals—a Colombian international who played last summer with the UWS Houston Aces and collegiately at Graceland College, a small school in Missouri.

Despina Hatzinikolaou—Amazones Drama's F.C.—17 goals

Dimitra Panteliadou—P.A.O.K Ladies F.C.— 16 goals—32 year old Greek international who played in the 2004 Olympic Games which her country hosted and imported about half of the side from their diaspora in North America.

Jelena Dimitrijević—P.A.O.K Ladies F.C.—15 goals—31-year-old Serbian international




Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey

Tim Grainey
About the author

Tim Grainey

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